The Ilyushin Il-2 Shturmovik

U.S.S.R.
U.S.S.R.

side view front view under view

The Ilyushin Il-2 Shturmovik (Assaulter) is the aircraft that was built in larger numbers than any other warplane. Ever. Only in that respect it deserves a Statue :-). Further it was probably the number 1 reason for the German defeat on the Eastern front. What the Junkers Ju 87 Stuka was to the Germans, the Ilyushin Il-2 Shturmovik was to the Russians. And then more.
In the mid-1930's the Russians had developed a tactical doctrine not unlike the German. Airpower was not a means to strike the enemy far behind the lines, but as a means to support groundforces on the front. As such the USSR wanted a number of aircraft optimised for operations under 16,405 ft (5.000 m). A mix of fighters, light and medium bombers, short-range reconnaissance, and ground-attack aircraft was envisioned to protect the Motherland. Especially the ground-attack aircraft would have to be heavily armored for protection, and armed with fixed guns and cannons, a small load of bombs, and possibly air-to-surface rockets. In 1935 the Russian governement issued a requiredment for an advanced 'Bronirovannii Shturmovik', or armored assaulter.
The Yakovlev Design Bureau proposed a twin-engine aicraft with 4 × 37 mm cannons and excellent performance (Yakovlev VIT-1), but since it was unable to operate from forward positioned airstrips it was canceled. By 1938 the urgency for a ground-attack aircraft became so high that the design bureaus of Sergei Vladimirovich Ilyushin and Pavel Osopovich Sukhoi were ordered to design a suitable candidate. Both designs were similar: a single engined cantilever low-wing monoplane with retractable landing gear, trailing-edge flaps, and an enclosed cockpit. The Ilyushin design would be a two-seat machine with a mixed metal-wood skinning. The initial trials of the first two prototypes (TsKB-55's) revealed that it would be a good aircraft, but yet there were problems with the lontitudinal stability, and initial climb, speed and range were poor. Ilyushin then decided to work on a derivative with only 1 crewmember, and the defensive rear gun, armor and provisions for the second crewmembers could be stripped.
The single-seat prototype (TsKB-57) wasfitted with an additional fuel tank, an improved engine, improved armament and better redistributed armor.

Versions:

Further pictures:

Ilyushin Il-2 Shturmovik
Ilyushin Il-2 Shturmovik

Ilyushin Il-2 Shturmovik from another view
Ilyushin Il-2 Shturmovik from another view

 

Technical data on the Ilyushin Il-2m3 or Il-2 Type 3
Powerplant 1 × Mikulin AM-38F Vee, rated at 1770 hp (1319.52 kW) Role during war
  • (Ground) Attack Fighter
  • Close Support Attack Fighter
  • Anti-tank Fighter
Length 39 ft 4.5 inch Height 11 ft 1.75 inch
Empty weight 9976 lb Operational weight 14021 lb max
Wing Span 47 ft 11 inch Wing Aspect ratio 5.54
Wing Area 414.42 sq ft Service ceiling 19685 ft
Maximum speed 258 mph at optimum altitude Cruising speed unknown
Initial climb rate unknown Range 497 miles typical
Fuel capacity internal 144 Imp gal (173 US gal) Fuel capacity external -
Machine guns
  • 2 × 0.3 inch ShKAS fixed forward-firing in the wing leading edges
  • 1 × 0.5 inch Beresin UBT trainable rearward-firing in the rear cockpit, 150 rounds
Cannons 2 × 23 mm Volkov-Yartsyev Vya-23 fixed forward firing, 150 rounds each
Bomb load Up to 2,205 lb distributed over two wing cells rated 1,102 lb each, and 4 hardpoints rated at 551 lb each. General disposables load consisted of:
  • 6 × 220 lb FAB-100 bombs, or
  • 4 × Der-50 containers with each carrying 50 × 5.5 lb PTAB anti-armor bomblets
Torpedoes/rockets Up to 8 × 3.2 inch RS-82 or 5.2 inch RS-132 rockets
Crew 2: pilot, radio operator/gunner Naval or ground based Ground
First flight (prototype) 12 October 1940 Operational Service March 1941 - late 1950's
Manufacturer Ilyushin Design Bureau Number produced 36.163 total, unknown number this version
Metric system
Length 12 m Height 3.4 m
Empty weight 4525 kg Operational weight 6360 kg max
Wing Span 14.6 m Wing Aspect ratio 5.54
Wing Area 38.5 m² Service ceiling 6000 m
Maximum speed 415 km/h at optimum altitude Cruising speed unknown
Initial climb rate unknown Range 800 km typical
Fuel capacity internal 653 liters Fuel capacity external -
Machine guns
  • 2 × 7,62 mm ShKAS fixed forward-firing in the wing leading edges
  • 1 × 12,7 mm Beresin UBT trainable rearward-firing in the rear cockpit, 150 rounds
Cannons 2 × 23 mm Volkov-Yartsyev Vya-23 fixed forward firing, 150 rounds each
Bomb load Up to 1.000 kg distributed over two wing cells rated 500 kg each, and 4 hardpoints rated at 250 kg each. General disposables load consisted of:
  • 6 × 100 kg FAB-100 bombs, or
  • 4 × Der-50 containers with each carrying 50 × 2,5 kg PTAB anti-armor bomblets
Torpedoes/rockets Up to 8 × 82 mm RS-82 or 132 mm RS-132 rockets

Here is a quick overview of all different versions, without the full technical specifications:

Different versions of the Ilyushin Il-2  Shturmovik
Ilyushin BSh-2 The initial designation of the Ilyushin Il-2. The first two produced aircraft entered service in April 1941, and was fitted with an improved canopy, engine, aerodynamics, better maintenance access, and flame-damper exhausts. During the first weeks it's designation was changed to Ilyushin Il-2
Number built: unknown out of a total of 36.163
Ilyushin Il-2 redesignated BSh-2. Early aircraft were fitted with the Mikulin AM-35A (rated at 1,350 hp or 1.003 kW) or AM-37, but soon the Mikulin AM-38 was adopted as standard. These aircraft had some 1,543 lb (700 kg) of armor protecting the engine, pilot and fuel tank. The powerplant drove a 3-blade metal propeller of the constant-speed type. It had the same dimensions as the Il-2M type 3, but had an empty weight of 9,590 lb (4.350 kg), max take-off weight of 12,676 lb (5.740 kg), and a max level speed of 269 Mph (433 km/h) at sea level.
Number built: unknown out of a total of 36.163
Ilyushin Il-2m Starting in May 1942, the Shturmovik was fitted with a Mikulin AM-38F Vee engine, rated at 1,720 hp (1.282 kW). In stead of using the additional power for a performance boost, it was used to improve the armament and armor, which would have a performance hit otherwise. The total armor weight was increased to 2,183 lb (990 kg).
Also, attacks from the rear needed protection, for the single-seat Shturmovik was pretty vulnerable from that side. German fighters could attack it almost without impunity, because of their superior meneuverability and performance. They could try again and again until their target was destroyed. In the field some aircraft had been fitted with a second position, for a rearward-firing gunner. This gunner was often armed with 1 × 0.50 inch (12,7 mm) Beresin UBT, or 2 × 0.3 inch (7,62 mm) ShKAS guns. Unwilling to disturb the fast production of the Il-2, Stalin delayed the decision to start building the new version. Finally he did so, and the two-seat Shturmovik entered service just in time for the battles around Stalingrad.
Further changes to the Il-2M were the replacement of the 20 mm ShVAK cannons by 2 × 23 mm Yva-23 cannons with a larger projectile and a higher muzzle velocity which was capable of penetrating the armor of German tanks. This increased the weigth with another 1,323 lb (600 kg). Also the outer wing panels (of wood) were changed, the complete tail and rear fuselage (also of wood), and again improved armor around the cockpit. Later aircraft were fitted with light alloy outer wing panels and rear and tail, when it became clear that there were enough supplies of it.
Number built: unknown out of a total of 36.163
Ilyushin Il-2m3 or Il-2 Type 3 this version was originally flown in December 1942, but entered production only in 1944. The powerplant in this version was uprated to 1,770 hp (1.320 kW), and the outer wing and tail section were made of Dural. Also a big number of changes improved the aerodynamics of the aircraft.
Number built: unknown out of a total of 36.163
Ilyushin Il-2 Type 3M This was the definitive version of the Shturmovik. It had provisions for up to 32 × 3.2 inch (82 mm) RS-82 rockets on zero-length launchers, and the 23 mm cannons were replaced by 2 × 37 mm Nudelman-Suranov NS-11-P-37 cannons, 32 rounds each. These rounds were high-velocity once, able to penetrate the armor of the PzKpfw (PanzerKampfwagen ?) VI Tiger heavy tank. Production halted in November 1944
Number built: unknown out of a total of 36.163
Ilyushin Il-2T This version was able to carry 1 × 21 inch (533 mm) torpedo under the fuselage, and was used mostly by the Black Sea fleet.
Number built: unknown out of a total of 36.163
Ilyushin Il-2U this version was a tandem two-seat trainer, entering production in 1944, although trials had been completeed in 1941 already. It was armed with 2 × 0.3 inch (7,62 mm) ShKAS guns, 2 × 3.2 inch (82 mm) RS-82 rockets, and 441 lb (200 kg) of bombs.
Number built: unknown out of a total of 36.163

Remarks:

The Ilyushin Il-2 Shturmovik was ready just in time, before the German invasion Operation Barbarossa. 249 had been delivered by then, but since the tactics to operate the Shturmovik weren't yet developed, and the necessary fighter-cover was absent, these aircraft suffered heavy losses. In October 1941 the production facilities in Moscow and Fili were threatened by the German advanced troops, and were subsequently evacuated to Kuybyshev. Production there was slow, and Stalin 'motivated' the facility by saying: "The Red Amry needs the Il-2 as it needs air or bread. I demand construction of more Il-2's. This is my last warning." It helped, for the production rate increased significantly.

Strengths:

Weaknesses:

 

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© by Frans Bonné, 2000
Last revision: 12/11/00